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Poland – Part 12: Getting Sick, To Poznan, and A Sketchy Hostel

June 25, 11:25AM

It seems like we just got to Krakow, and now we’re leaving again.  We’re taking a 7 hour bus ride today to Poznan for the 2009 Malta Festival.

Originally, the plan was to wake up around 8:30AM this morning and go on a walking tour of Krakow.  But when 8:30AM rolled around, and people started getting up, my throat was absolutely killing me.  I was getting sick.  It wasn’t a surprise – Ryan and Jiv had been sick the night before, and all of the second-hand cigarette smoke I was inhaling probably wasn’t helping either.

So I thought it’d be best if I sacrificed seeing more of Krakow for my health.  I went back to bed.

I woke up just after 11AM.  It turns out that Una and Linn opted out too, and now we’re sitting outside of the hostel at the first floor restaurant.  We’re about to get breakfast, and then it’s 7 hours to Poznan.

1:13PM

Still sitting outside the restaurant.  We’re really taking it easy this morning…I had a “Polish Breakfast” (bread, ham, cheese, scrambled eggs), orange juice, and a lemon sorbet for my throat.  It looks like either Linn or Una got pirogies:

Perogies!
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Perogies!25-Jun-2009 08:19, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.93, 11.3mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

Our waiter found out we were from Canada, and says that our rugby team is really rough and tumble, but “never gets anywhere”.  Hm.  I didn’t even know we had a team.

Everybody came back from the walking tour (or from their own separate morning adventures) at pretty much the same time.

Yes, I do say!  How about them colonies, wot?
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Yes, I do say! How about them colonies, wot?25-Jun-2009 07:33, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

And then we were off!

3:00PM – On the Bus to Poznan

We’re on our way to Poznan.  We left about 40 minutes ago.  I’m trying to read Guns, Germs and Steel.  Even by itself, it’s a pretty hard book to read.  Now try doing it on a bumpy bus with people talking all over the place.  Not exactly ideal.  I found myself rereading paragraphs over and over again without really absorbing anything.  Eventually I gave up and just looked at the countryside.

More Polish countryside...
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More Polish countryside…25-Jun-2009 10:10, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 
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25-Jun-2009 10:10, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.009 sec, ISO 64

 
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25-Jun-2009 10:11, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.48, 8.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

You can barely see them in the second shot, but there are wind turbines in the background.  Wind turbines seem to be pretty common out here.  It’d probably be more common in Southern Ontario if we didn’t have the Hydro system to rely on.

9:30PM

Still en route to Poznan.  Apparently another hour and a half to go.  We’ve driven through a pretty brutal thunder/rain storm.  Rain flooded an entire section of the street, but our bus driver, Pan (Mr.) Stephan, just plowed right on through it.

Now the sun is setting, and it’s overcast, but at least the rain has stopped.  We’re all getting pretty stir-crazy in the bus.  We’ve all been reading, sleeping, playing word games, making jokes, telling stories… this long trip has reminded us of how brutal our flight home will be (20+ hours!!).  We also joked about the garbage strike (which was still on at that point).

We’ve been eating chips, popcorn, and other junkfood from gas stations and rest stops along the way.  I feel pretty trashy.  Everybody is restless.

11:00PM

We’ve arrived at the hostel.  Feeling like trash.  We couldn’t find the place at first, and then found out we had to walk down a sketchy alleyway to get there.

To top it off, between us and the door was a veritable lake of foul smelling liquid.  We grit our teeth, and Tamara visibly shuddered as we walked through our personal oasis of filth to the hostel door.

This hostel really doesn’t feel secure at all.  And the shower doesn’t drain.  And the bathroom door doesn’t close properly.  The beds aren’t comfy.  A whole host of complaints.  Our long journey probably didn’t help our mood.

And I was hungry.  So after dumping my stuff at the hostel, I walked back through the putrid lake, and found an all-night grocery.  I got some fruit, some yogurt, and some soup.  I showered (most unpleasant, with the soapy water not draining), and then I went to sleep on my lumpy mattress on the creaky bunkbed in the sketchy hostel.

Click here to go to Part 13: First Day in Poznan, Still Sick, and LA MENZOGNA

Click here to go back to Part 11.5:  Back to the Hostel

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Poland – Part 11.5: Back to the Hostel

In my last entry, I finished by saying:

My notes for the day end there, but I imagine I eventually headed back to the hostel and went to sleep.

It turns out that my notes for the next day start with a recap on what happened the night before.  So I can fill in a few blanks here.

Back to the Hostel

I got back to the hostel and found it mostly empty.  Most of the others must have been out doing something else.  Chantelle was there in the common room though, and we filled each other in on what we’d done that day.

After that, we brewed some tea, and played a version of Scrabble where we can make up words, so long as we can define them in a funny way.  It was good times.  As we were playing, more people started to come back and fill up the common room.

I had some jam on bread as a snack, and talked with Peter, Alex, Tara, and Tom about politics (mainly US foreign policy).  Somehow, Sonia convinced me to put some cheese on my jam sandwich.  I noted in my journal that I didn’t think it added much in the way of good flavouring.

It turns out that Chantelle and I hadn’t been the only ones in the hostel – Ryan and Jiv had been there sleeping.  They were both feeling pretty sick.  There was some kind of illness going around, and my throat was starting to get sore, too.

I had a shower, and then I went to bed.

Click here to go to Part 12: Getting Sick, To Poznan, and a Sketchy Hostel

Click here to go back to Part 11: Journey into Auschwitz, and Adventuring Alone in Krakow

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Poland – Part 11: Journey into Auschwitz, and Adventuring Alone in Krakow

Gathering Dust

It’s been about 5 – 6 months since my last Poland entry.  There are a myriad of excuses for this:  tough school year, busy Xmas holiday, relentless work load…

But I have to say I’ve kind of been avoiding writing this one on purpose.  Why?

Well, for starters, I don’t have any photos.  Long story short, before we got off the bus at Auschwitz, we were told there was no photography, so I left my camera on the bus.  Then it turned out that there was no photography in the buildings, so I missed out on getting some snaps outside.

I’ve been able to get my hands on some photos.  A big thanks to Alex Rubin and Anj Mulligan for letting me use theirs.  I’m not entirely sure how using someone else’s photos will affect my narrative, but we’ll see.

The other reason I’ve been avoiding this one is because I wrote so damn much about it.  39 pages from my journal were devoted to this day.

Why so much?  Well, to be honest, it was a pretty emotionally charged day.  A lot of people were crying during the tour.  My reaction was just to write down everything I could see and hear, as fast as I could.  I hope I got everything right.  Please correct me if I’ve gotten something wrong.

Anyhow, enough stalling.  Here we go.

June 24, 7:45AM

It was an early morning.  I showered, shaved, sent some email, and then hung out in the kitchen/common area with Yev, eating some cocoa-puffs while she boiled water for tea.

The breakfast lady was in a foul mood that morning.  She stormed in to the kitchen and started rearranging things with a violent efficiency, clicking her heels.  Yev and I were silent.  Finally, I said “Dzien dobry” (good morning) to break the tension.

Wow.  That was the last straw, I guess.  The breakfast lady flew into a huge Polish rant as she stormed around us.  We couldn’t understand a word, but she was clearly upset.

Yev said she reminded her of one of her Soviet schoolmasters.

I didn’t wait to see how the fury played out.  I got out of there.  Yev stayed behind.

Yev later told me that, after making a sandwich (which the breakfast lady saw her do), she made a super-quick pit-stop at the washroom, only to come back and find that her sandwich had been thrown in the garbage.  Presumably by the breakfast lady.

8:25AM

We boarded the bus and were en route.

It was a tense morning.  Tamara told us that the Auschwitz trip was optional, and so a few of us had stayed back.  The bus ride was unusually quiet.

I think everybody was preparing themselves.

9:45AM

I wasn’t allowed to bring my camera (or so I thought), so I left it on the bus.

After getting off the bus, we read a multi-lingual sign that set the behavioural tone for the rest of the tour:

Througout the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust. The German forces occupying Poland during the Second World War established a concentration camp, on the outskirts of the town of Oswiecim. In 1940, the Germans called the town Auschwitz and that is the name by which the camp was known. Over the next years it was expanded into three main camps: Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, and Auschwitz III-Monowitz and more than forty subcamps.

The first people to be brought to Auschwitz as prisoners and murdered here were Poles. They were followed by Soviet prisoners of war, Gypsies and deporters of many other nationalities. Beginning in 1942, however, Auschwitz became the settling for the most massive murder campaign in history, when the Nazis put into operation their plan to destroy the entire Jewish population of Europe. The great majority of Jews who were deported to Auschwitz – men, women, and children – were sent immediately upon arrival to death in the gas chambers of Birkenau.

When the SS realised that the end of war was near, they attempted to remove the evidence of the atrocities committed here. They dismantled the gas chambers, crematoria, and other buildings, burned documents, and evacuated all those prisoners who could walk to the interior of Germany. Those who were not evacuated were liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945.

On July 2, 1947, the Polish Parliament established the State Museum of Oswiecim – Brzezinka on the sites of the former camps at Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau. In 1979, these camps were formally recognized by UNESCO by their inclusion on its World Heritage List.

PLEASE BEHAVE APPROPRIATELY RESPECTING THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO SUFFERED AND DIED HERE.

Next to this was a map of the compound.  Again, no photos, so something like this will have to do.

Looking at the map, my eyes were drawn to the familiar word “Canada”.  It turns out that, when new arrivals came to the camps, their belongings were stripped from them and sent to a special area of the camp called Canada for sorting and searching.  It was called Canada, because at the time, Canada was considered the land of plenty.  Here’s Wikipedia’s take on it.

Near the signs were, of all things, gift and souvenir shops, called the “informatory”.  Postcards, books, videos, photos…  seemed a bit in bad taste.  After seeing the gift shops, I noticed all of the smiling tourists around me, and I found that quite macabre.

It was particularly disturbing because of how quiet it was.  There were also “keep silence” signs all over the place.  So yeah, it was quiet.  Really quiet.

As we approached the entrance, we heard birds chirping.  It was overcast – the grass was still wet from the morning dew.

10:00AM

As we were reading the signs, Tamara had gone off to get the tour guide.  On her way back, her face was covered in tears.  She’d visited Auschwitz for a tour several times before, and firmly stated to us that she couldn’t bring herself to do it again.  So she went off to go wait in the bus.  It was an ominous moment.

All of the tour guides were dressed in black.  Ours was no exception.  After a brief, quiet hello, she gave us each a set of earphones and receiver.  This is how she would communicate with us during the tour.  This way, she wouldn’t have to yell for us all to hear her.  Instead, the tour became very personal, and she was able to speak softly to each of us individually.  I wrote in my journal that her voice was incredibly soft, caring, and soothing – and that she reminded me more of a nurse than a tour guide.  I really think part of her job was to soothe, as well as to educate.

We headed towards Auschwitz I.

Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

An Extremely Brief History of Auschwitz

Auschwitz I was the original concentration camp, and eventually became the central administrative hub of the complex.

Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

The buildings of Auschwitz I were military barracks, originally constructed by and for the Polish army.  In the late 1930’s, Poland had been invaded, split up, and annexed to the Nazis and the Soviets.  So technically, Poland ceased to exist.  The Nazis saw the barracks in their new territory as “very convenient” for housing the growing number of Polish prisoners, especially considering the railroad junctions that led to it.  The Nazis set up shop, and the land and buildings became Auschwitz I.

Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

Auschwitz I was originally established strictly for Polish prisoners, but eventually Gypsy’s and Soviet POW’s were held there as well.

Eventually, Auschwitz I got so packed with prisoners, that two more camps were built in close proximity.  Those camps were named Auschwitz II and III.

The Main Gate

This is the main gate to the camp:

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

The gate reads:

Arbeit Marcht Frei

Which translates to “Work Makes You Free”, or “Work Gives You Freedom”.

Surrounding the entire camp was a double electric fence:

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

Entering the Camp

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

The camp orchestra, composed entirely of prisoners, would play lively German marches as the prisoners were led into the camp.  It was humiliating and dehumanizing.  This also made it easier for the guards to count and keep the prisoners in step.

The men and women were then separated, and sent to different barracks.  There would be 800-1000 prisoners assigned per barrack, which only had 2 stories.  The prisoners in Auschwitz I were cramped to the extreme.

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

The roads we walked down were all empty and quiet, but it wasn’t hard to imagine them filled with the noise of thousands upon thousands of prisoners, being crammed into the buildings.

It was pretty disturbing.  In this shot, you can see me scrambling to scribble all of this information down in the background.

Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

We then entered one of the barracks, which had been converted into a museum.

Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

A sign loomed overhead reading:

The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.

The Barracks

Auschwitz was almost in the center of occupied Europe.  With the already-established railroad system, the Nazis were able to send over 1,000,000 prisoners to Auschwitz.  The majority of those prisoners were Jewish.

It didn’t start out that way, but at some point during 1942-1943, Auschwitz became an extermination camp.

A sign on the wall broke down the prisoners as follows:

1,300,000 sent to Auschwitz
1,100,000 Jews
140,000 – 150,000 Poles
23,000 – Roma / Gipsy’s
15,000 – Soviet Prisoners
25,000 – Other

90% Jews

A large, glass, transparent urn in the barracks held human ashes in rememberence.

During the original invasion of Poland, the Nazis focused on capturing/executing as many Polish monks, priests, lawyers, leaders, and educated people as possible.  This was their method of “destroying” Poland’s culture and identity.  After an uprising in Warsaw, 13,000 Poles were sent to Auschwitz I as punishment.

Many photos were taken at Auschwitz by the SS for their own use.  Those black and white photos lined the walls of the museum.  We weren’t allowed to take photographs, so I can’t show them to you, but I can describe some of them.  Imagine black and white, blurry photos of extremely thin, extremely gaunt, bald people, wearing prisoner garb.  Imagine seeing photos of them digging graves for themselves, or jumping to a particular height for a guard’s amusement, or running at top speed in a big circle “just because”, so the guards could watch.

SS “doctors” were always present at prisoner arrival to “conduct selections” on who could work and who could be executed immediately.  There were photos on the wall of women, children, and old people, being sent to their death.  They look calm, because they didn’t know.

The Jews who weren’t executed immediately were put to work.  Some were sent to Auschwitz III, which was a work and manufacturing camp.  Prisoners were forced to make things there for the Nazis.

Other prisoners became Sonderkommandos, which means they assisted in the execution of other prisoners.  Sonderkommandos would work in the crematoriums and gas chambers, and were forced to witness and commit various horrible atrocities against other prisoners.

Gassing of prisoners took place underground.  A single gas chamber would have 2000 prisoners crammed inside of it at one time.  Prisoners who entered the gas chambers were told that they were taking showers.  Fake faucets in the ceilings and walls helped sell the illusion.

After the doors were shut, crystals of Cyclone B were dropped in through openings in the ceiling.  After 20 minutes, all were dead.  Sonderkommandos would then go in and carry the bodies to the crematorium.

Before the bodies were cremated, Sonderkommandos had to cut off the hair from the women.  The hair was packed into bags, and sent elsewhere to be turned into hair-cloth and other textiles.  The ashes of the prisoners were used as fertilizer.  Everything was reused.

At one point, we entered a room in the museum, where behind a large pane of glass, we saw mounds of human hair that had been found at the camp.  Massive quantities of dead prisoners hair.

This was the point in the tour that most people started to lose it.  Lots of tears.  Lots of crying.  I kept scribbling.

Any belongings or valuables brought by the prisoners into the camp were sent to the camps called Canada I and Canada II for processing.  The plunder ended up being part of the evidence that was used to prove the atrocities that had happened at the camp.  Like the piles of hair, we saw piles of glasses, piles of shoes, piles of Jewish prayer shawls, combs, brushes, suitcases, clothing, prosthetics, crutches, pottery, bowls, cutlery… everything was sorted.  The quantity was simply horrifying.

In my journal, I noted that the lighting in the barracks was quite muted, but that the exhibits (the hair, combs, etc) were under bright flourescents.  It was really macabre – like seeing a body at a morgue.

The next part of the exhibit was even more horrifying.  It turns out that 20% of the victims of the camp had been children (90% Jewish).  There was a room, absolutely packed to the brim, with children’s shoes.  So many shoes.

And that’s the thing – I noted this in my journal:  it’s not just the atrocity itself, but the sheer size of the atrocity that is so horrifying.  The piles of shoes and the hair really gave us a sense of that size.

Prisoners

Of the prisoners that weren’t immediately executed, 50% were Jewish.  Many were Polish.  All were treated like property.

There were some prisoners who were given some of the responsibilities of the guards – for example, being in charge of work units.  These prisoners were always German criminals.

The prisoners were deprived of all of their human characteristics.  No names.  Just numbers.  Photos were originally used for identification, but this was eventually changed to tattoos because a prisoner’s appearence would change too much.

The Nazis were meticulous record-keepers.  Prisoner IDs were linked to prisoner files that held details such as education, age, and history.

Hunger was rampant among the prisoners.  There wasn’t nearly enough food for all of them.

One sign we saw gave us a breakdown of the daily life of a prisoner.  I couldn’t get it all down, but the pattern was obvious:  prisoners were slowly killed with work.  They were punished and beaten.  Most lasted less than a year.

All non-Jewish children became prisoners.  These children were also often subject to horrific “scientific” experiments by Dr. Josef Mengele.

Among other things, Mengele apparently wanted to find ways of creating twins and triplets, so that German “Aryans” could reproduce quickly.

Other atrocities were performed by Dr. Carl Clauberg who tortured Jewish women, in an attempt at finding ways of sterilizing them.

It was a lot to take in.  We went back outside.

Back Outside

We were at the execution wall.

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 
Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

Prisoners, often naked, were shot in the back of their heads.  It is estimated that 10,000 prisoners were shot at this wall.  There were also posts were prisoners could have their arms strung up behind them for hours, as torture, and as punishment.

There were also starvation cells.  In one of those cells, Saint Maximilian Kolbe was starved to death with 9 other men.

Eventually, we entered a building where the first experimental mass killings took place.  There were suffocation cells.  There were cells where prisoners were forced to stand all night.  Pretty horrific.

The “camp hospital” existed for propaganda, to keep the purpose of the extermination camp a secret.  The hospital was really the “crematorium waiting room”, since selections would often happen there.

Roll call was also used as prisoner punishment.  If a prisoner escaped, or it was suspected that a prisoner had escaped, the remaining prisoners would be punished.  They’d be lined up and counted outside of their barracks, again and again.  Sometimes they’d be out there for 20 hours straight.

Only 144 prisoners successfully escaped Auschwitz.  Captured escapees were tortured for information on their escape, and then executed.

Crematorium I was originally an ammo bunker.  The crematorium was dark…stone…dusty…gritty.  It was all so much monstrous efficiency.

Break

The first part of the tour was over.  We handed back our headsets and took a 10 minute break.

I wrote that the sun was warm, and that some of us were hungry.

12:05PM

We just got a small snack.  We’re all sitting outside.  Everybody is quiet.  Some of us are eating.  Some of us are drinking coffee.  Some of us are smoking.  Some of us are crying.  It’s pretty rough.  It’s hard to be an optimist here – hard to feel good, anyhow.  Just…devestated.

12:20PM

We’re late.  Our 10 minute break went on too long, and we’re late getting back on the bus.  We’re heading to the next camp.

The bus really has never been so quiet.  But what do we say to one another?  This is no place for joking around…no place for making quips.  What’s the first thing you say?

There are storm clouds in the distance.

It’s a 3km drive to the next camp.  Tamara says that there are no exhibits…just the barracks and other buildings, the railroad tracks, and the gas chambers.

Auschwitz II

We’re here.  I recognize where I am – I think I had seen it in Schindler’s List.

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 
Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 
Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 
Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

It’s brick and fields, barbed wire, and wooden barracks.  It’s starting to rain gently.  Those of us with umbrellas put them up.

The fields here used to be Polish homes and farmland before the residents were evicted by the invaders.  The barracks were constructed from materials from destroyed buildings.

Not all of the barracks are still standing.  Some have been dismantled.  Others have crumbled with age.

The gas chambers have been destroyed, but the ruins are still there.

There’s grass and flowers now, but during the war, everything here was muddy and swampy.

We closed our umbrellas and went into the barracks.

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

The Barracks

Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

The barracks reminded me of stables for horses.  Wooden bunks, and a single stone oven for heating.  At least 400 people per barrack.  No toilets inside.  No washrooms.  Just buckets and ditches in the ground, and barrels of water outside.

There were “toilets” outside, which were really just holes in the ground with wood frames built over them.

Members of the prison resistance would meet by the ditches/toilets, since the guards would never go near them (due to the smell, and disease).

Like Auschwitz I, there’s barbed wire everywhere.

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

The Gas Chambers, and Liberation

75% of Jews were gassed on arrival to the camp.

In November, 1944, Heinrich Himmler ordered the crematoria destroyed before the Red Army could reach the camp.  Nazi soldiers began destroying the evidence of what had happened at the camp, starting with the gas chambers.

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 
Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 
Photo Credit:  Alex Rubin
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Photo Credit: Alex Rubin

 

In January, 1945, with the Red Army getting closer, SS command ordered that all prisoners at Auschwitz be executed.  This order was never carried out.  Instead, the camp was evacuated, and the prisoners were sent on death marches to another camp in Wodzisław Śląski.  Prisoners who were too sick or weak to march were left behind.  Those 7,500 prisoners were still there when the Red Army came to liberate them.

According to Wikipedia:

Approximately 20,000 Auschwitz prisoners made it to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where they were liberated by the British in April 1945.

Final Words

Some of the buildings and ruins in Auschwitz II are sinking, and the museum is working hard to restore them.

Just past the last gas chamber is a large stone monument.  Large, Easter Island-like heads and monoliths.

At the base of the monument are numerous plaques, all in different languages.  Here’s the English one:

Photo credit:  Anj Mulligan
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Photo credit: Anj Mulligan

 

The monument is surrounded by flowers and wreaths.

The tour is now over.  We thank the tour-guide, and, in the rain, follow the train tracks back out the main entrance.  Birds chirp.  Grass grows.  Puddles. Life continues.

It’s no surprise to me that existentialism and the Theatre of the Absurd came about in reaction to these atrocities.

And that’s it for my Auschwitz notes.

3:30PM

Just got off the bus.  Had a nice long nap – I think most of us did.  We’re back in Krakow.  It’s sunny and warm.  Tamara has given us free time now.

5:30PM

Had a nice big late lunch (or early dinner) with  Alex, Linn, Una, and Jiv.

Onion soup, garlic bread, and a banana-chili shake.  Nice!
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Onion soup, garlic bread, and a banana-chili shake. Nice!24-Jun-2009 11:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

We discussed Auschwitz – it seemed OK to do now.  We all agreed that it was a devastating experience, but we were glad we did it.

Our moods were starting to lighten.

We also saw a guy in a beer suit walking around:

Giant beer suit!
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Giant beer suit!24-Jun-2009 11:27, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 
The giant beer suit stalks its prey...
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The giant beer suit stalks its prey…24-Jun-2009 11:27, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 11:27, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

And we also saw some breakdancers doing some moves in the market square.

Krakow breakdancers
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Krakow breakdancers24-Jun-2009 11:33, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.68, 17.2mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 11:33, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.68, 17.2mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 11:34, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.68, 17.2mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 

I caught some of it on video:

After eating, I went to the phone to call Em.

6:05PM

Just got off the phone with Em.  Told her all about Auschwitz.  Missing her a lot. I decided to try to make myself feel better by getting some lemon sorbet.  It’s a pretty good deal at 4z.  I found Alexi and Yev drinking coffee in the square, and joined them while I finished my cone.

I think Yev borrowed my camera and took these photos:

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24-Jun-2009 13:14, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.007 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 13:14, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

7:05PM

I’m on my own now.  There’s some big crowd in the square, and I hear clapping.  Buskers?

Ah, looks like another breakdance group.

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24-Jun-2009 14:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.23, 7.5mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

And there are accordion players here!  They’re playing some classical music.  Nice.

Krakow accordian players
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Krakow accordian players24-Jun-2009 14:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

And a mime painted all in gold (though in this shot, he looks like he’s on break):

Mr. Gold.
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Mr. Gold.24-Jun-2009 14:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.009 sec, ISO 64

 

There’s also a group of people giving out free hugs.

All of this activity is occurring around another statue of Adam Mickiewicz:

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24-Jun-2009 14:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.5, 15.5mm, 0.012 sec, ISO 64

 

7:15PM

I listen to the accordion players for a while.  They’re playing the William Tell Overture.

Eventually, I exit the square into a side street.  I hear violins…eventually, I see the players:

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24-Jun-2009 14:24, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 100

 

And I think I hear a dulcimer being played somewhere.

7:25PM

The street I strolled down is called Florianska.  At some earlier point, I had gotten the urge to check out some of the local music scene, and the girl at the hostel told me to walk down this street.  She said there was an indie rock bar around here called The Lizard, but I haven’t found it yet.  And I’m slowly approaching the end of the street.

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24-Jun-2009 14:35, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

So I haven’t found The Lizard.  My quest to find some indie music is a failure.  I did peer through the window of a closed music store, though.

Heading back, the sun is starting to set.

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24-Jun-2009 14:50, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

I’ve suddenly realized that there’s less than a week left in my trip.

7:30PM

I’m sitting in some park, listening to the birds.  While I recognize some of the calls, most of the birds sound really different than what I’m normally used to.

Thunder rumbles in the distance.  I think there will be another storm tonight.

7:50PM

I’m back in the square.  I hear bagpipes somewhere – the notes from the pipes are reverberating off of the walls.

Eventually, I see the piper.  He’s really far away, and I have to zoom in with my camera:

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24-Jun-2009 15:06, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.023 sec, ISO 64

 

The square seems pretty busy for a Wednesday night.  I imagine the place gets absolutely packed on weekends.

It’s a whole spectrum of age groups out this evening.  I’m also hearing a variety of languages.  Polish, English, and German for starters.  Italian too.  Mostly white people.  One or two exceptions.  Some rollerbladers.

The Trumpet

An ambulance raced by, driving through the crowded square. As it passed, I heard a trumpet playing a tune from the top of the cathedral, and then abruptly stop.

I heard the same tune over the bus radio when we first landed in Poland, but I think I forgot to write about it.  It has something to do with a trumpet player trying to warn the city of invaders, and then being shot in the throat whiel playing – hence, the sudden stop.

A crowd of people has formed in front of one of the cathedrals.  Lots of talk, buzzing, but no English.  Not sure what’s going on.  Is it a tour about to start?  Church service?  Mass?  At 8:07PM?

The Birds

I’ve noticed some noisy, high-pitched, tiny birds flying from building to building.  They’re abundant.  Maybe bats?  I feel like an idiot trying to take a photo of them, but I do it anyways:

These little noisy birds were everywhere
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These little noisy birds were everywhere24-Jun-2009 15:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 15:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 15:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 
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24-Jun-2009 15:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 64

 

The three men playing on the accordions are still there, and now that crowd is starting to move.  I guess the cathedral was acting like some big meeting point for a tour group.  The accordion players are doing the William Tell Overture again – they seem to have a repetoire of about 5 songs.

My notes for the day end there, but I imagine I eventually headed back to the hostel and went to sleep.

Click here to go to Part 11.5: Back to the Hostel

Click here to go back to Part 10: Journey to Krakow, Wawel Hill, and The Dragon.

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Poland – Part 10: Journey To Krakow, Wawel Hill, and The Dragon

June 23, 5:10AM

At 5:10AM, a huge clap of thunder woke us all with a start.  Groaning,  moaning, and uttering expletives… we tried to go back to sleep, but the thunder storm and heavy rain raged all around us.

And then, eventually, the storm moved off…finally, we could sleep…

…but before it could happen, one by one, our alarm clocks started to go off.  It was time to leave.

Grumbling, lights flicked on, and we headed to the washrooms and showers…

6:12AM

A few people reported that there was some food missing from the hostel kitchen.  Tom and Tara reported half a carton of chocolate milk had been pilfered, and half of Linn’s salami was missing.

Apparently, some of the guests thought we wouldn’t mind sharing.  Or there was a mix up.

Either way, it didn’t improve anyone’s mood.

Not long after, we packed up our stuff, got on the bus, and left Wroclaw for Krakow.

10:27AM

We had been on the bus for a few hours, and I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to take a nap.  I eventually gave up, and I joined in with a bunch of the group who were quizzing each other on Canadian provinces and U.S. states.

It turns out that I know relatively little about Canadian provinces, and next to nothing about U.S. states.  Hmph.

Eventually, we pulled over at a rest stop.  I took the opportunity to try some of the local junk food, and purchased two chocolate bars – a “Corny Big” and a “3Bit”.  They tasted better than they sound.

Tamara also took the opportunity to tell us how the rest of the trip was going to work.  She also lightly condemned the last hostel, which was clearly not to her liking.

While talking about the rest of the trip, she mentioned that she had arranged for us to visit Auschwitz for the next morning.  The group got quiet.  Tamara also said that she had left open the possibility of visiting the Wieliczka Salt Mines after Auschwitz, but that it would really depend on our mood.  We would probably be upset after Auschwitz, and would want to go home and rest.

12:30PM

We arrived at the hostel around 11:30PM, and man, what a difference!  The place was absolutely spartan, the rooms were gorgeous, the views were incredible… we were quite happy, as you can see:

Yev and Alexi, posing in the Krakow hostel!
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Yev and Alexi, posing in the Krakow hostel!23-Jun-2009 06:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.15, 7.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 156

 
Una is digging the room
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Una is digging the room23-Jun-2009 06:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.15, 7.1mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 100

 
Linn likes the room too!
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Linn likes the room too!23-Jun-2009 06:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.05, 12.0mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 181

 

Yes, it was a welcome change.  In case you’re interested, the hostel was called “Cracow Hostel Apartment“.  You can see more photos of the place if you click these words – but having been there, it’s pretty clear that these photos try to make the rooms seem bigger with lens effects.

So we had nice rooms.  But guess what?

Peter got the pent house! The lucky guy got the hostel apartment!  The room was incredible!  It was too bad we were only staying a few nights.

The hostel was particularly awesome because it was in the Market Square.  Here are a few shots of the view from the common room window:

Our view from the Krakow hostel common room window
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Our view from the Krakow hostel common room window23-Jun-2009 07:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.91, 6.2mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 64

 
Looks like rain...
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Looks like rain…23-Jun-2009 07:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.91, 6.2mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
Krakow market square - looks a lot like Wroclaw's, doesn't it?
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Krakow market square – looks a lot like Wroclaw's, doesn't it?23-Jun-2009 07:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.91, 6.2mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Wow!  (Looks a lot like Wroclaw, doesn’t it?  That’s what I thought, too.)

If it isn’t clear from the photos, it was still drizzling out.  But that didn’t mean we weren’t starving.  After unpacking and cleaning up, we hit the pavement to try to find some lunch.

Wandering through Krakow
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Wandering through Krakow23-Jun-2009 07:41, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.27, 7.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 64

 

1:06PM

This was lunch:

Mmmm....I don't remember what it was, but it was tasty.
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Mmmm….I don't remember what it was, but it was tasty.23-Jun-2009 07:54, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.12 sec, ISO 100

 

And this was where we ate it:

This restaurant was called "Chimera", I think...
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This restaurant was called "Chimera", I think…23-Jun-2009 07:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.313 sec, ISO 100

 

The place was called ChimeraInteresting concept for a restaurant.

1:41PM

After leaving the restaurant, Tamara took us on a walking tour of the surrounding area:

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23-Jun-2009 08:32, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.011 sec, ISO 64

 
Exploring Krakow
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Exploring Krakow23-Jun-2009 08:36, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 
I think this is Krakow University
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I think this is Krakow University23-Jun-2009 08:38, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.012 sec, ISO 64

 
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23-Jun-2009 08:42, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.06, 12.1mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 64

 

The rain had stopped, and the air was left dripping with humidity.

We stopped by a church called Bazylika Sw Franciszka Z Asyzku XIII W.  Hm.  Maybe I wasn’t hearing right, but apparently there was some stained-glass work by Adam Mickiewicz there…

Here are some shots from the church.  Not the greatest shots I’ve ever taken, but hey – it was dark in there:

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23-Jun-2009 08:49, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
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23-Jun-2009 08:49, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
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23-Jun-2009 08:50, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.476 sec, ISO 100

 
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23-Jun-2009 08:51, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.57, 9.3mm, 0.476 sec, ISO 100

 
Shroud of Turin?  In Krakow?  Maybe it's a photocopy...
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Shroud of Turin? In Krakow? Maybe it's a photocopy…23-Jun-2009 08:53, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.16, 12.7mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 222

 

I don’t know if Mickiewicz did the stained-glass – regardless, here’s a shot of one of the pieces:

Poseidon!
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Poseidon!23-Jun-2009 08:50, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.55, 16.0mm, 0.039 sec, ISO 100

 

2:07PM

We left the church, and meandered through the streets.

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23-Jun-2009 09:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

Eventually, we found ourselves at an outcropping called Wawel – home of Wawel Castle, which was to be our next stop.

A castle in Krakow.  The main castle, I believe.
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A castle in Krakow. The main castle, I believe.23-Jun-2009 09:13, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 
The castle from the "front".
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The castle from the "front".23-Jun-2009 09:17, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s a window dog we saw on our way to the castle ramp.  It breaks the narrative, but I can’t resist:

Window dog
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Window dog23-Jun-2009 09:15, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

And while I’m breaking narrative, here’s Alex posing in front of a Bauhaus poster:

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23-Jun-2009 09:16, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

…and eventually, we found ourselves climbing the ramp up to Wawel Castle:

Going into the castle...
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Going into the castle…23-Jun-2009 09:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.5, 15.5mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 64

 
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23-Jun-2009 09:24, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s a view from one of the castle turrets:

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23-Jun-2009 09:24, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

At the castle gate, we bought tickets to enter, and to see the “Dragon’s Den” underneath the castle grounds.  We were stoked.

2:45PM – Wawel Castle

High security.  Metal detectors.  Armed guards.  This place wasn’t taking any chances.  There was a very strict code of conduct in there – no sitting, no leaning on walls, keep quiet, and absolutely no pictures.  So I just took notes.

So I can’t show you what it was like inside, but I can try to describe it:

It was a museum.  Stone and hardwood floors.  Quiet like a tomb.  Marble staircases.  Wooden cabinets, uncomfortable looking wooden chairs, wooden tables…tapestries, beds.  Old paintings.

Tamara told us a story about how when the Germans invaded, relics and artifacts were smuggled out of Europe.  It turns out that some relics from Wawel Castle eventually found themselves holed up with a cloister of nuns in Canada.  Go figure.

Everything was ornate, and gold rimmed.  Even the ceilings were covered in gold.

Oh the hell with it – so I couldn’t take any photos: that doesn’t mean I can’t scrape some from off the Internet.  Here’s what I was seeing, care of this website:

There, that’s better.  I’ve always been a visual kind of guy.

Check out the ceiling on this room:

You probably can just barely see them, but those are human heads carved and painted into the ceiling.  Just staring down.  And one has his mouth gagged.  It was creepy.  Apparently, those heads were carved by Sebastian Tauerbach back in the 1500s.

3:55PM

The castle wasn’t the only thing on Wawel Hill.  Inevitably, there was a church – Wawel Cathedral.

So, interesting theatre connection with Wawel Cathedral:

There was a theatre artist who wanted to do a show in the cathedral.  His idea for the play:  that all of the tapestries and statues would come to life on the night before Easter to demonstrate the resurrection of Christ.  It was like Night at the Museum, but with 100% more Jesus.

Anyhow, that play was called Akropolis, and would eventually be staged by Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960’s. Grotowki’s spin on it was to stage it in Auschwitz instead of the Wawel Cathedral.

Anyhow, Grotowki’s Akropolis caused ripples in the theatre world, and was a shining example of the “poor theatre” that he was striving to achieve.

For the people who don’t study drama, Grotowski, Poor Theater, and Akropolis are a pretty big deal.  I’ve seen a taping of Akropolis a few times…it’s one of the few recordings of Grotowski’s work.

Anyhow, that’s the connection.  We were inside the cathedral where that whole thing began.

4:02PM

Walking through the cathedral.  Once again, I couldn’t take any photos.

Description:  high ceilings, gold, tapestries, stained glass.  Gothic architecture.  Gold alter.  Chandaliers.  Ornate, dark woodwork.  Coffins and tombs.  Sarcophagi.

There was a narrow, claustrophobic staircase that led up to the cathedral bell tower.  It was windy up there, and the bells were absolutely massive.  Huge cast-iron things.  Mother of all bells.  I couldn’t help myself – I whipped out my camera like a gunslinger, and snuck a shot:

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23-Jun-2009 11:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.313 sec, ISO 100

 

Yeah, I know – doesn’t look that impressive.  It’s due to lack of size reference points.  You’ve just got to trust me.

There were tombs in the basement.  Thick marble slabs, stone… there were some disturbingly small sarcophagi too.

The tombs got more modern the farther through we went – towards the end, we saw tombs with the occupants’ firearms strapped to the wall.

Maybe I’ve seen too many Indiana Jones movies, but I couldn’t help feeling that there were probably secret passages all over the place.

4:30PM

Finally, we got out of the catacombs into the fresh air.  We hung around outside, and waited for stragglers.  I took the opportunity to take a photo of some kids who were clearly disobeying the “don’t step on the grass” rule:

These kids were totally ignoring the "do not step on grass" rule.  They were never seen again.
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These kids were totally ignoring the "do not step on grass" rule. They were never seen again.23-Jun-2009 11:46, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 64

 

Thunder rumbled in the distance.

4:50PM

Remember the Dragon’s Den?  That was our last stop on Wawel. We took a narrow, twisty flight of stairs down…down…deep…down…wayyyyy down into the cave beneath the castle.

It was…a cave.  Kinda underwhelming, but I don’t know what we were expecting.  A real dragon?

The lighting conditions weren’t ideal, so here are my crappy photos of the cave:

Exploring the cave
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Exploring the cave23-Jun-2009 11:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
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23-Jun-2009 11:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 
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23-Jun-2009 11:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.5 sec, ISO 250

 

And here’s Tom filling up the cave with some dragon presence:

TOM IS THE DRAGON
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TOM IS THE DRAGON23-Jun-2009 11:56, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.8, 5.8mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 380

 

We eventually left the cave.  We took the time to sit, rest our legs, and stare up at this dragon monument that was outside the exit:

Here's the dragon outside of the cave.  It's supposed to breathe fire, but we never saw it.
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Here's the dragon outside of the cave. It's supposed to breathe fire, but we never saw it.23-Jun-2009 12:01, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.38, 14.3mm, 0.026 sec, ISO 64

 

The Dragon

Now, I don’t know how the rumour got started, but apparently, every hour, that dragon was supposed to breathe fire.  So the bunch of us stuck around for about 15 minutes, waiting for the fireball.

Evidently, the group of us make enough of a crowd to cause other people to wonder what’s going on, because more people from off the street started joining our group, staring up at the dragon, waiting.

And then the hour came…and went…and nothing happened.

Jiv went to talk to a local street vendor.  It went something like this:

Jiv:  Isn’t this thing supposed to breathe fire every hour?

Vendor:  [Look of confusion]

Jiv:  [Mimes breathing fire, and points at dragon]

Vendor:  [Shakes head vigorously]

Disappointed, the crowd dispersed.

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23-Jun-2009 12:32, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.82, 5.9mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 64

 

5:35PM

Tamara had led us into the Jewish Quarter of Krakow.

Alex Rubin:  A Jew in the Jewish Quarter.
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Alex Rubin: A Jew in the Jewish Quarter.23-Jun-2009 12:37, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.0, 6.5mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 64

 

The storm was really threatening now – dark clouds, and rumbling that was closer than before.

Trouble brewing
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Trouble brewing23-Jun-2009 12:39, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.46, 8.8mm, 0.012 sec, ISO 64

 

Rain started to fall.  It was time to get indoors.  As a torrent of rain started to come down, we found a restaurant, and took shelter.

And then it started to hail for a bit.  Strange.

6:52PM

The restaurant we had chosen was pretty fancy.  I ordered what eventually turned out to be chicken shish kabab.  For the price…not that great.  But whatever, we were inside and dry.  And I was full.

The group was pretty tired at this point.  The lack of sleep from the night before, and the long tour of the day had worn us out.  After we had finished eating, Tamara told us that we had the rest of the day to ourselves.

A pack of us left the restaurant to explore the Jewish Quarter.  Eventually, we found ourselves back in the Market Square, where I promptly ordered myself a lemon sorbet.  I missed the ice cream from Wroclaw, but the lemon sorbet was amazing.  Sonia took the opportunity to buy some zapiekanka.

Have I told you about zapiekanka?  I don’t think I have.  Polish equivalent to a hot dog.  Long half of a baguette, topped with melted cheese and mushrooms, and a long strip of ketchup.  I liked ‘em.

Some of us went back to the hostel.  I hung around the Market Square for a little bit and snapped a few photos:

Poland is under construction everywhere.  There are cranes all over the place.
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Poland is under construction everywhere. There are cranes all over the place.23-Jun-2009 14:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.0, 6.5mm, 0.014 sec, ISO 64

 

Here’s Adam Mickiewicz again!  What a guy!

Adam Mickiewicz!
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Adam Mickiewicz!23-Jun-2009 14:55, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 98

 

And a giant head:

Massive head.
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Massive head.23-Jun-2009 15:10, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 3.62, 9.6mm, 0.073 sec, ISO 100

 

The very center of the Market Square was a…market.  Lots of little booths selling trinkets.  Religious figurines…amber… a high number of chess boards, which I found strange.

The market in the center of the market square.  It was like a flea market.
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The market in the center of the market square. It was like a flea market.23-Jun-2009 15:21, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 2.81, 5.8mm, 0.213 sec, ISO 100

 

And wouldn’t you know it, I also found some miniature copies of those creepy head sculptures that I’d seen in Wawel Castle!

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23-Jun-2009 15:43, FUJIFILM FinePix A345, 4.7, 17.4mm, 0.175 sec, ISO 100

 

At this point, I was pretty tuckered out.  I walked back to the hostel, and eventually went to sleep.

We would be getting up early the next day to go to Auschwitz.

Click here to go to Part 11:  Journey into Auschwitz, and Adventuring Alone in Krakow

Click here to go back to Part 9:  The Halfway Point

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Poland – Prologue

Did I mention I’m going to Poland?

If I didn’t, well, now you know.

On June 15th, at approximately 5:30PM EST, I will be hurling through the skies at absolutely tremendous speeds with a collection of fellow University College Drama Program folk.  We will be traveling to Poland, where we will meet other UCDP folk who are already there.  We will be there for 15 days, doing tours of Warsaw, Krakow, Wroclaw, and Poznan, and seeing plenty of theatre – including shows that are part of the Malta Festival.

Oh, and did I mention that the UCDP is footing the bill?  That includes flights, train trips, lodging (European hostels, here I come!), and food!  Wow!  Thanks UCDP, thanks UofT.  Thanks.  What a way to cap an undergraduate career.

Oh yeah, by the by, I got word back from UofT – I’m good to graduate.  I’m scheduled to convocate on the 16th of June…unfortunately, I will be in Europe.  Single tear.

So that’s that.  I’m pretty much all packed.  I’ve got reading material, notebooks, my camera, and an exciting itinerary.  No laptop.  No cell phone.  I will be mostly out of touch.

But who knows – if I do happen to stumble across an internet café while I’m out there, I might write up a blog post recounting some adventures,  and upload some photos.

Either way, it’ll be business as usual when I come back on the 30th.

Do zobaczenia wkrótce!  (Thanks, Google Translate!)

Click here to go to Part 1: Departures and Arrivals

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